Thornapple Kellogg — At Lee Elementary school, echoes of a familiar holiday song wafted out from inside the makerspace.
“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose,” third-graders sang to themselves while coloring pictures of the misfit Christmas reindeer on the front of holiday cards.
But this was no ordinary card project. Art teacher Becky Branch taught the students how to make their cards light up as bright as Rudolph’s nose, or like the star on top of a Christmas tree, using LED bulbs and a simple circuit.
“I love this project. It’s so fun,” Branch said. “We haven’t used our makerspace as much since (the pandemic), so we’re trying to give students more opportunities to be creative in the space.”
She said she found the idea online and printed blank coloring pages on the front for students to customize.
After each student chose a card design to color, Branch explained how to create an electrical circuit on the inside.
“A circuit is a path,” she said. “We’re going to use copper tape to make an electricity path from the battery to our lightbulbs.”
Branch printed a template on the inside of the cards to show the pathway for the electricity to flow.
“This line goes to the battery and this one goes to the light bulb,” third-grader CeCe Keto explained as she placed the copper tape on the designated lines.
A Lightbulb Moment
After completing the circuit, Cece closed her card to test it. When the copper strip touched the battery and the bulb didn’t light up, she investigated the problem.
Branch helped her determine that the copper lines weren’t smooth enough, so Cece patched them with tiny pieces of copper tape and cleaned up the circuit. This time when she closed the card, the yellow LED bulb poking through the star at the top of the Christmas tree lit up.
Third-grader Emerson Burke chose a red LED bulb for her card, because Rudolph has a red nose. Most of her classmates came to the same conclusion when choosing their LED bulb color.
“It’s like when (Rudolph) revealed his nose to everyone in the movie,” one student said after watching his card light up.
As students finished their cards, they went around the room and offered to help classmates with their circuits.
Third-grader Chance Hudson continued to sing while writing a note to his mom on the back of his card: “And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.”